Mark Noble, honest as ever, has taken to the press to give his side of the story amid the growing clamor for him to be dropped from West Ham United's starting line up. Choosing Sky Sports as one's given media platform might raise a few eyebrows, the wisdom of which may be called in to question, but obviously Slaven Billic's captain has felt the need to put his side of the situation. The fact that Mark Noble needs to 'go public' is a matter of some conjecture, however the no smoke without fire aspect is clearly apparent. As captain, Noble will be the focus of fan based negativity if things aren't going well, it's part of the job, so his statement "If I am really honest, a lot of people who now go to football don't really understand the game" seemed a little unnecessary. He continued by saying "Football is a game of moments now and if someone does four step-overs, they've had an incredible game, that's not something I do. It's just football, you've got to live with it. The things Arsene Wenger has done for Arsenal and some people want him out, players like Wayne Rooney some people want him out of the Manchester United team. That's why we are captains of our clubs, because we can handle that pressure," Noble added with alacrity."It's probably been the hardest period of my West Ham career because we've had so much to deal with off the pitch, you've got to stick at it," he insisted.
Will either Noble or Rooney still be their respective club captains by the beginning of next season? In Rooney's case he has 'clocked up a lot of miles', he has also achieved a tremendous amount as is befitting such a high profile player, this is in no way meant to decry Noble's own considerable achievements but out of the two players it is Noble who still hankers for a bit more success before even considering hanging up his boots, and who is to blame him? The problem lies in how Mark Noble can effectively continue to influence the upward progress of the team without holding them back as he approaches the twilight of his top flight career, it is a topic we have raised before, as have just about every other West Ham website. Last season Mark Noble played out of his skin, whether it was because of being in the presence of Payet who knows? but 'Marky' definitely raised his game to a level few thought possible, there was a particular ground swell of opinion that he should have been included in the England squad for the Euro's, in hindsight he could hardly have done much worse than those who were selected ahead of him, and maybe his reputation was not 'sullied' by being associated with the bunch of losers that returned home empty handed having let down their expectant nation yet again! The season before last was a different kettle of fish, fans were already openly criticising Noble's 'old school' approach to the game, citing his propensity for conceding fouls in dangerous areas and his woeful distribution of the ball, so maybe last season was just a 'blip', but a very inspired blip, however it seems that 'normal service' has been resumed this season, perhaps accentuated by the dismal overall performance of a squad that arrived with a fanfare but that was assembled for two bob! Either way the cracks are definitely showing but will invariably be papered over until a permanent fix can be made, when and how that occurs is down to a combination factors not least who will be overseeing player recruitment.
Perhaps it would be politically expedient if Captain Noble seemed to pick up an injury that needed rest and plenty of it, it's not as if it hasn't been done by teams before facing the same situation of parting company with an incredibly loyal albeit well paid servant, Slaven Billic has already proved incredibly adept at dealing with player issues, although we suspect the Mark Noble issue is one head ache he would have preferred to have dealt with in the closed season away from prying eyes and too much scrutiny. - Ed